Seaside Heights Fire Department Lashes out at Looting Claims during Sandy
Media reports of Seaside Heights firefighters looting the Army-Navy store and a 7-Eleven in the Borough during superstorm Sandy are “baseless and irresponsible,” according to a post on the Department’s Facebook page.
The statement says volunteers “acted reasonably and in good faith when we carried out orders (from the Office of Emergency Management team) to secure food, clothing, and supplies from both stores (for first responders and residents).”
The lashing out comes on the heels of the federal government rejecting Seaside Heights’ request for $185,000 to cover the cost of the items, as well as novelty goods that went missing, such as plates featuring Elvis and Betty Boop, shot glasses and golf balls.
The fire company stated, “The items removed by first responders from the Army-Navy Store included boots, hats, pants, shirts, coats, and flashlights,” adding ” It is baseless and irresponsible – arguably even defamatory – for anybody to assert otherwise.”
“The town made it as right as it could under the circumstances,” said store owner Ted Domaracki last September. “We’re thankful the store is back open. We’re thankful business wasn’t as bad as it could have been this summer.”
Seaside Heights officials say the firefighters only took rescue supplies, and that looters might have taken other items after the firefighters had left.
They also say FBI officials inquired recently about the incident. The FBI has declined to comment.
Mayor Bill Akers said Seaside Heights did not ask the federal Emergency Management Agency for reimbursement for the cost of the non-emergency items taken from the store. “They were not put in as part of the claim,” he told the newspaper. “None of those items were put in.”
The bill Domaracki submitted to the borough included T-shirts, Army jackets, polo shirts, bagged underwear, rain ponchos and jackets and jeans — all things that could have been used during or shortly after the emergency.
But other items included 79 assorted handbags at $1,659; books, toys and games worth a total of $647; and eight golf balls for $44. The owners billed Seaside Heights an additional $5,600 for the cleanup.
The Associated Press contributed to this report